Sunday, July 20, 2014

Where we stand (Part 3 - North)

More prefectures have entered the round of 16 (and some who were already there have gone further):

Kita Hokkaido - Best 8 (en route)
With the taikai wide open as it is, teams remaining know they have a chance to head to Koushien.

Bushuukan, no stranger to the stage (though not in the end successful), did enough at the beginning and end to defeat Fukagawa Nishi 4-1.  They will be a tough test for Teshio, who finds them in unknown territory having used 2 big innings and holding off a 9th inning rally to defeat Rumoi 8-5.

Engaru got no favors drawing Shirakaba Gakuen right off the bat.  7 runs in the 3rd and 4th innings suddenly found themselves clear.  Shirakaba would not go quietly of course, and a 4-run 6th pulled them within 3.  They further culled that deficit to 2 after 2 in the 8th.  But time would run out as Engaru would win 9-7.  While it won't get any easier facing Asahikawadai in the next round, they got a surprising challenge in Kouryou.  They were shutout for most of the game, and it wasn't until a 2-run 7th that they cleared the way to the quarterfinals.

In an unfortunate battle between two Kushine regional schools, Kushiro Kougyou beat Kushiro Hokuyou 7-3. They will face an Iwamisawa Higashi squad that shutout Shibetsu Shouun 2-0.

The final 2 games of the round of 16 will be played today.

Minami Hokkaido - Best 4 (en route)
Unlike Kita Hokkaido, there was no drama at all in the first round of the prefectuals.  Urakawa, Eniwa Minami, Otaru Chouryou, Sapporo Dai-ichi, Sapporo Dai-ichi and Komadai Tomakomai all advanced.  The one surprise was Hakodatedai Yuuto who certainly was facing a tried and tested team in Toukai Dai-yon, was mercy ruled 7-0!

We had 2 of the quarterfinals yesterday, and the bye almost helped Sapporo Sousei.  Leading for most of the game, ace Hirose just needed 3 more outs to send his team past Urakawa to the semifinals.  By the time he recorded those 3 outs though, Urakawa had plated 4 runs and his team found the tables reversed.  They couldn't come back, falling 6-4.

Otaru Chouryou continues to defy the odds.  After defeating Hokushou back in the prefecturals, they managed to keep Shiriuchi at arms length in the latter innings to win 9-4.  The run perhaps looked to be at a close after they gave up 5 in the first 2 innings.  But they rallied back with 5 unanswered in the middle innings, and made it stand up for an 8-6 win.  Urakawa stands between them and a shot at the title.

Today the heavy hitters step in.  Toukai Dai-yon's trip will look familiar now as they must fight through Sapporo Dai-ichi.  Meanwhile, Komadai Tomakomai must go toe-to-toe with Sapporo Nichidai for the right to advance.

Aomori - Best 4 (en route)
The top 4 advanced to the Best 8 with mostly no problems.  Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei mercy-ruled Aomori Kita 9-0 in 7, Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi went just 5 to defeat Hirosaki Jitsugyou.  Those that needed a little more help, Aomori Yamada needed 4 pitchers to defeat Mutsu Kougyou 5-1 and Seiai needed a 4-run 7th to defeat Goshogawara 7-3 to setup the following matchups:
  • Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei v. Hirosaki Kougyou
  • Hirosaki Chuo v. Seiai
  • Hachinohe Koudai Dai-ichi v. Aomori
  • Goshogawara Shougyou v. Aomori Yamada
The first two games were played yesterday, and to no surprise they did not go the full 9.  Kousei won 14-1 and Seiai won 8-0, both in 7 innings.  That will be a must-see semifinal.

Akita - Best 8
The top 4 seeded teams were first up in the round of 16.  Oomagari Kougyou and Akita Minami both advanced with double digit wins.  Nishime had a tough test against Akita Shougyou but held off a 9th inning rally to win 3-2.  Yokote was the first seeded team to fall, falling to unknown Yuri Kougyou 5-1.

Oomagari Kougyou catches a break as Akita's run with close games catches up to them, shutout by Oomagari Nougyou 3-0.  Oomagari couldn't make it 3 schools from the city, but can't be blamed for losing 7-1 to Noshiro Shougyou.  Nishime better have their A-game ready.

Now here's a surprise - Yuzawa, more know for their onsen, sees their baseball team beat a well-known baseball school in the prefecure in Oodate Houmei 6-1!  With a matchup against Yuri Kougyou next, there is a prime opportunity to advance at such a late stage.

Finally, Kakunodate put Noshiro away early in the game ton win 7-3 and will need to get past 2nd seed Akita Minami.

Iwate - Best 8 (en route)
I suppose it would come as no surprise to anyone that Hanamaki Higashi as the top seed has given just 1 run in each of their 3 games so far.  They will play 5-8 seed Kuji Higashi, whose only real scare was a 8-5 win over town rival Kuji.

Oofunato had a great story going as a 5-8 seed.  3 years after the earthquake, they reached the round of 16 after rallying twice against Ibonai and then giving up a 2-run lead, to finally advance in 13.  Despite the long game, they came back and gave Senshuudai Kitami a challenge despite trailing for most of the game.  Sadly they would fall 4-3.  They will play a Mizusawa team defeated another disappointing Ichinoseki Gakuin team 2-1.

The other round of 16 games will be played today with Morioka Dai-san and Moriokadai Fuzoku taking the field.  Both have shown their opposition no mercy so far.

Yamagata - Best 8
Nichidai Yamagata appears to be back on track, recording a 13-0 win over Kaminoyama Meishinkan.  Next up will be Sakata Kouryou who have scored 4 runs in each of their games so far.

Sakata Minami still doesn't seem to be hitting their stride just yet, as it wasn't until a 6-run 8th that they distanced themselves over Kunori Gakuen 11-2.  Yamagata Jyouhoku is up next after they rallied with 3 in the bottom of the 9th to defeat Yamagata Shougyou 7-6.

Tsuruoka Minami has played nothing but close games so far, including their 3-2 upset over 2nd seed Yamamoto Gakuen.  A well-respected Yamagata Chuo will be on the other side of the field next.

The other, more well-known Tsuroka team, Tsuruoka Higashi has yet to yield a run, and will play Nagai next.

Miyagi - Best 4
The prefecture is probably Rifu's to lose.  Tohoku trailed twice against the, but when Rifu put the 3rd run up in the 6th, Tohoku could find no answer and lost 3-2.  The feel good story for Kesennuma continues as a 5-run 5th put them clear of Ishinomaki 5-3.  However, it is very hard to see them making it past this round.

Tohoku Gakuin's run didn't last long after the upset win over Sendai Ikuei.  They couldn't plate a run against Sanuma and will have to wait until next year.  Meanwhile, Shiogama's magical run continues.  After tying the game at 2 in the 6th versus Izumi Shougyou, it isn't until 7 innings later that they are able to put up 3 runs to win and advance 5-2.

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